Joan Wilder: Journalist, Writer, Editor

Fire chief alerts residents to anthrax attacks

Hull addresses anthrax concerns

HULL – Fire Chief Nick Russo last night urged Hull residents to call the fire department or police immediately should they receive suspicious mail.

“The anthrax issue will continue for at least the next couple of months,” said Russo, whose department is now equipped with protective suits that protect against biological agents.

“Don’t investigate a suspicious envelope, just call us. It makes our job much easier,” Russo said.

Responding to a question from Selectman Josh Cutler about the effectiveness of ironing mail, Russo said that steam can kill biological agents but asked that no one iron, microwave, or otherwise “cook” their mail.

He warned against putting letters in toaster ovens, as one resident did, because burning anthrax can make it airborne.

Russo and Police Chief Donald Brooker outlined the emergency response measures their departments have undertaken since Sept. 11.

The two departments are coordinating their efforts and training, Brooker said.

They have distributed manuals on biological agents, including anthrax, to all municipal department heads and they are monitoring several local, state and federal information sources daily to keep abreast of developments.

Brooker said that he’s also in touch with the regional office of the FBI and other federal agencies.

The police chief encouraged residents to follow President Bush’s request to call police should they notice any unusual behavior.

“Chief Russo’s department is the initial responder (to any emergencies) and the police respond on a different level,” said Brooker.

Police are patrolling town more often, Brooker said.

“All town properties, residents, educational institutes, religious institutes, federal and state government property, the U.S. Coast Guard, the FAA, are on our list of control patrols,” said Brooker, who meets daily with Town Manager Philip Lemnios.

Although the town has not received any threatening calls, Brooker is concerned that there are no state statutes against such actions.

“‘Massachusetts has very few state statutes on hoax calls,” said Brooker. The chief said he’s discussed strengthening state law with the Massachusetts Police Chiefs Association, the attorney general’s office, and state Rep. Garrett Bradley, D-Bradley.

“We’re looking forward to addressing these issues on the state level and having something in place in the future,” said Brooker. “The community should rest easy that everything’s being done that can be done,” said Brooker.

In other business, the selectmen:

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